Jan 22, 2024 - Energy & Environment

Musk drama, Cybertruck numbers: What to watch for in Tesla's earnings report

Illustration of the Tesla logo with multiple dollar signs in the middle

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

There'll be plenty to talk about when Tesla reports fourth quarter earnings on Wednesday, with its competitive position under threat.

Why it matters: Chinese automaker BYD bested Tesla as the world's bestselling electric vehicle (EV) company last year, despite Tesla boosting deliveries by nearly 20%.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk's latest drama:

  • I wouldn't be shocked to see questions on the analysts' call about his threat to pursue AI initiatives outside Tesla if the board doesn't give him more stock.

Sales and product outlook:

  • Deliveries rose 38% last year — hefty but short of Musk's previously stated 50% annual target.
  • Watch for news (or at least tea leaves) on how the Cybertruck ramp is proceeding, and long-promised — and long-delayed — plans for a low-cost vehicle.

Margins, margins, margins:

  • Rounds of price-cutting to juice sales — which hit a new record in Q4 — have been coming at the expense of per-vehicle profits.
  • Morningstar analyst Seth Goldstein writes that Tesla's overall business has some tailwinds as lower prices were partially offset by lower material costs and record deliveries.
  • He adds that "growing profitability of the energy generation and storage segments should help companywide margins."

Ripped from the headlines:

  • I'll also be watching for questions about Hertz hitting the brakes on its EV plans, given that Tesla's a major supplier.
  • Tesla and other EV makers are also facing criticism for battery and charger woes in the recent Arctic blast.
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